Remembering Everquest: Next

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It’s a funny title to write. The game isn’t really officially dead, after all. Hell, I’m not even sure that it could ever really have been considered alive, but here we are, entering into 2016, and it seems that all hope has been truly abandoned.

Most notable among those who have abandoned all hope are the folks behind EQNexus, which, beyond being my fan site of choice for the formerly promising game, was also the second website I ever contributed to – back even before I began sharing my thoughts on The Errant Penman. This gives the site a special place in my heart, and I was sad to discover its passing when trying to access an old article of mine.

I think I would consider Everquest: Next to be one of my personal most influential MMOs, which is an admittedly bizarre thing to say about a vaporware title. When I first watched Dave Georgeson’s enrapturing unveiling of the title’s ambitious and groundbreaking design objectives, a lot of new ideas about what an MMO could be started running around in my head, soon to be joined by older ideas unearthed from their slumberous dormancy as long buried memories, forgotten in the tired malaise of WoW-clones being offered at the time.

In my exploration of the title’s formative ideas I came to accept the idea of abandoning the trinity in favor of a combination replacement of superior NPC AI and combat roles drawn from PvP titles like DoTA. I found the allure of flatter, level-less progression systems in which the entire game world remained a viable play-space at endgame. I grew an interest in the tactful use of procedural generation to keep game worlds fresh. Perhaps most importantly, my journey to the sandbox side became complete. If all of that sounds familiar, it’s because these features are also present in the current holder of my hopes and dreams, Crowfall.

So you know what? I’m glad I went along for the ride. Sure it didn’t take me where I wanted to go, but it took me somewhere new, and I quite like it here after all.

The Wayback Machine

I was able to recover my previous writings using The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine – a truly wonderful website -, which I’ve re-hosted here on The Errant Penman for the sake of preservation. For a trip down memory lane and a look at what I still consider to be some of my best work on MMO mechanics, here are my two favorites from those articles.

The Trinity, AI, and EQ:Next – How I Lost Faith in the Trinity

A mathematical explanation of the trinity’s inner workings, how it depends on antiquated tech to function, and how the genre could move past it in the future. This was my conversion piece, after having been a staunch believer in the system for so long, and should prove an interesting read, even if it doesn’t win you over.

Taking Progression to the Next Level

An ode to horizontal progression and level-less systems, with nods to many of unique progression systems that were originally planned for Everquest: Next. While I was ranting about the evils of level based vertical progression long before EQ:N, it was a pleasure to explore the concept in a more positive light with a game actually planning to go that route.

 


 

Obligatory disclaimer: I doubt Everquest: Next is fully dead. Due to the value inherent in the Everquest name alone, it is unlikely that Daybreak Games would ever fully jettison the project. That said, I do expect that when they eventually reveal the game’s current iteration under what is essentially a new dev team, that the game will bear little resemblance to the title we were once excited by, and remain pessimistic that its new form will not be much to the original fan base’s liking. Everquest: Next is dead. Long live Everquest: Next.

 


 

Update: On March 11, 2016, Everquest: Next was officially cancelled.

 

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